Monday, November 24, 2014

The New Little Horse Canyon

 During August and September we had exceptional monsoons. Meaning more frequent than usual, and in some places, more precipitation than usual. Unfortunately quite a lot of that rain came on areas that had just burned, causing a lot of erosion. However, many places in the landscape have evolved to adapt to change (it's just that now we have a lot of non-native species that screw things up!). Regardless, seeing the flood damage gives you an awe of the power of Mother Nature.

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to go hiking up Little Horse Canyon in the North Snake Range in Nevada. We could see new drainage channels heading to the east. They flowed right over the Gandy Road, which is still in poor shape. Whole trees were carried across the road.

We could see why when we got down into the bottom of the canyon. Places thirty feet high were scoured.

some of the rocky banks continue to collapse.

We kept gawking as we walked along, finding debris in trees far above our heads. It would have been so amazing to see this flood. It actually wasn't just one flood event, but at least four.

When we rounded one corner, we could see that the streambed ahead was fifty feet lower. What had happened here?

It turned out the stream had cut down to bedrock and washed everything off it.

On the left side of the photo below, you can make out the old stream channel, which had been cutting through the limestone. It was only a couple feet wide. Now the stream bed is tens of feet wide. It will be so interesting to see what grows back in this area.

The raging creek snapped trees off at their base.

We don't get a whole lot of flash floods in this area, they're more common to the south. But this summer was definitely the time for them. Fortunately very few people live in this area, so although the amount of land moved was immense, the damage done to infrastructure was minimal.

As we left the canyon, we reached the debris flow, where the water slowed down and debris fell out of the current. Trees littered the bench as far as we could see.

It was a really cool hike, and I hope I can visit some of the other places that were flooded this summer. There's something about seeing massive landscape transformations that puts me in my place. Ha!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Nevada State Railroad Museum

We love trains, so we were very happy to go to the Nevada State Railroad Museum on our recent fall break. We actually went twice, as the first time was at the end of the day so we needed more time to see it all and to go for a train ride.

 They had out the special McKeen Motor Car to celebrate Nevada Day. They've done a beautiful job restoring it.

 Our friend Dave also loves trains and came with us.

The train went three times around the tracks on the property. It wasn't long, but it was fun!



The back of the car was especially beautiful.

Then we went over and operated the hand car. Twice. It was great. Inside the museum they had beautiful engines and interesting displays. The kids' favorite part inside was the HO model train and the Thomas the Train toy table, but the part they remember the best was the hand car.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Desert Girl and the Monkey Bars

 One afternoon while we were waiting for Desert Boy to finish his piano lesson, Desert Girl had a chance to play with her friend Ella. Ella started across the monkey bars, and this really impressed Desert Girl.

So Desert Girl took a turn. She's 4 1/2 now and can be quite stubborn. I knew she really wanted to do the monkey bars, because on the way home from our fall vacation we stopped at the great playground in Austin, Nevada, and she gave those monkey bars a try.

She began across, those little hands holding tight, eyes focused on the next bar...

…legs flailed, hair flew, and she became even more determined...

…but sometimes determination isn't quite enough...
…but sometimes it is.

So did she make it across? Watch the video to find out!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Nevada Day Parade

Two weekends ago we watched the Nevada Day parade in Carson City. We had been forewarned that it was a long parade, so we brought chairs and settled in. The first half an hour was watching law enforcement go by.

They had an impressive amount of equipment.

The mounted police had at least 20 horses.

They showed off some old cars.

They brought an airplane.

The SWAT team tank was there, along with fully armed officers walking alongside.

The parade also had lots of veterans--thank you to all of them for their service!!


Because it's an election year, we saw quite a few politicians, including Governor Sandoval and his family and their many dogs.

The best politician entry was Congressman Mark Amodei, who followed some horses with a garbage can and shovel and helped clean up the mess. What a great political statement. I was laughing for a long time.

The bands in the parade were outstanding. They played very well and had some cool marching moves that we never got to do when I was in marching band.

In addition to the 150th birthday for the State of Nevada, it was also the 100th birthday for women's suffrage in Nevada.


Lots of entries celebrated the Sesquicentennial and the many people who make up Nevada.

One of the old fire carts we had admired the day before in Virginia City was in the parade.

For my friends who love horses, there were horses and horses and more horses in the parade. This group all had Arabian horses and were decked out in beautiful costumes.

Special coins were minted for the 150th birthday. For a short time back in the 1860s, the U.S. mint had an office in Carson City.

I cheered loud for the White Pine County High School marching band. That's a long way to come for a parade!

These Mexican riders and horses were perhaps the most talented I saw in the parade, riding a special gait that made it look like the horses were dancing to the mariachi music played from the back of the pickup that proceeded them. (Do you see the snow on the mountains? It snowed that night and was cold for the parade.)

Rotary Youth Exchange had a good contingent. I have a special place in my heart for them, as I was able to see more of the world via Rotary.

The Shriners had their small cars and had a good time driving them around. They do wonderful work supporting Shriners Children's Hospitals, where they treat children for free.

The parade kept coming. We had been there two hours and were getting hungry, so we went for some lunch, then walked up the parade route until we got to the Capitol building.

We found some beautiful leaves to play in. The kids were so happy to move around and goof off and take turns getting buried.

On a side street we found Smokey Bear. Desert Girl has been trying to work up her nerve to hug Smokey for two years, and she finally did it. She was ecstatic.

We passed a law enforcement vehicle that hadn't been in the parade: the gang unit. Yikes, something I pretty much never have to think about.

We rejoined the parade as the last group went by, shooting very loud rifles. About the same time, Desert Boy got something in his eye, maybe from the powder being shot into the sky. The firefighter/paramedics were very close and helped rinse out his eye with saline. They were super nice and helpful, and Desert Boy's eye turned out fine.

The parade lasted more than four hours. The kids liked some of it, but realized that they get more candy in the 20 minute parade in Baker than the super long one with 80,000 spectators. I was okay with not so much candy, after all they had just trick-or-treated the night before. Seeing the Nevada Day parade for the Sesquicentennial was a special experience. I overheard someone from California saying, "I sure wish we had a California Day!"

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Virginia City, Nevada

 We decided to spend a morning in Virginia City, Nevada to see the sights during our vacation to western Nevada. We had originally planned to go in the afternoon to catch the Nevada Day Parade, an evening train, and some trick-or-treating, but the forecasted bad weather had us change our plans. It turned out nice to beat the crowds, as I'm sure Virginia City can get very crowded. It's mainly a one-street town (although a few side streets exist). It's got a historic look, with a wood-sidewalk downtown and lots of storefronts that look quaint until you see the kitsch they're selling inside. As you might guess, it wasn't my favorite place.

Nevertheless, Virginia City did hold some bright spots for me. One was the Comstock Fire Museum. They had some beautiful old hose carts that were pulled by horses. They also had a lot of really old displays. I thought some of the old uniforms looked like superhero uniforms.

I also learned something about fire extinguishers. The first ones were glass balls filled with salt water. A person could throw the ball at the base of the fire, the glass would break, and hopefully the water would put out the fire. (The salt kept the water from freezing in the winter.)

Another fantastic spot was St. Mary in the Mountains Church. It was originally built about 1870, burned down in 1875, and was rebuilt in 1876 even bigger and grander than before. The mines put in money for the rebuilding, as the priest had offered to dynamite the new church to serve as a firebreak in the terrible fire of 1875 (that ultimately burned over 2,000 buildings). In the end, they didn't blow up the church, but it burned anyway when embers fell on the roof.

The interior is magnificent, with high ceilings and lots of great details in the wood.

The parish church was built to accommodate 3,000 families. Now only about 30 attend. Virginia City is past its hey-dey as a mining town. Its Wild West look keep people coming to visit.

Another place we found interesting was the Mackay Mansion, where we went for a guided tour. The Mackays were very interesting people.

I think the kids' favorite part was helping feed the chickens in the backyard after the tour.

We wanted to go on a train ride, but because it was Nevada Day they had changed the schedule. Maybe some other time.

There are other things to see in Virginia City, but we decided we'd rather go back to Carson City, where we met a friend and went trick-or-treating at the Governor's Mansion.

It was a fun experience to get handfuls of candy from the Governor of Nevada!

A professional photographer was taking photos of everyone who came for the trick-or-treating. Here's the photo from the Flickr page. She got a good one of the kids and me and our friend and Governor Sandoval.

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